Protagonist Danny fled his native South Africa and went to the United States of America. In order to stay in the country he enters into a marriage with Tesseba, who lectures at a university. It is a marriage of convienience. At the same time the two get more and more used to another.
Danny’s sister Bridget is married and lives in the States as well. She fled the country for she supported the anti-apartheid movement, for which she spent time in prison. Their mum, Helga, had been on that side of the struggle for years. Before she got married she wanted to move to Palestine, to set up life there and support the new nation.
Danny has taken up a new life in a new country. But the old country is never far away. That is where his memories are, his footsteps as a young boy and a young man. The schools he went to, the houses he lived in, the places in and around Durban.
And that girl. Santi is her name. She is the daughter of Baptie, the housemaid of the neighbours. Santi and Danny meet during nighttime, not to offend their parents, not to upset the establishment, to discover one another.
But Danny runs away to another country. He leaves Santi, but not in his mind. When he wants to settle the family-money (still in South Africa) after many years, he has to travel to his native country. So he gets into touch with Baptie in hope of meeting his old love Santi.
The different chapters in the book are each taken from the perspective of one of the main characters in the story. Danny, his sister Bridget, his mother Helga, his love Santi, her mother Baptie. Together all these perspectives form one story of love, lost love, attachment to an old and a new country. Love across borders and love that cannot cross borders.
A good read.
David Schmahmann – Empire settings – 2001